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iPad – STILL the confusion reigns with 1 more pencil!

Tell me I am not alone in finding iPads a bit hard to understand…

iPad and yet another Apple Pencil

On Monday rumours were rife that new iPads were coming via an Apple press release. Excitement started to mount wondering what goodies Apple were about to give us.

Well, as you’ll doubtless know by now, we didn’t get an iPad – nothing so exciting – instead we got another Apple Pencil! Even by Apple’s sometimes odd announcements, this one was something of a damp squib!

The mess that is iPad

I’d like to think I understand Apple reasonably well – but the sheer array of iPads is bloody confusing – or is that just me?

Checking out their store now you can buy a mini, an iPad, an Air or an iPad Pro – but that is just the start. The mini comes in two storage options and four colours. iPad is available in either the 9th or 10th Generation both with two storage choices. The Air comes in five colours and two storage options – and the Pro in two sizes and five storage configs.

That is a huge array to choose from and it smacks to me that Apple has lost sight of what they want from them.

And the mess got even messier as the ’new’ Apple Pencil that was released yesterday should have been on sale a year ago. The iPad 10th Generation was released only supporting a first-generation Pencil which connected via the weird & cumbersome Lightning-to-USB dongle.

We know they are mighty clever boys and girls at Apple – so who on earth gave that configuration the green light? It just made no sense and gave the Apple haters plenty to poke fun at.

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Explaining the line-up

Yesterday’s odd release again puts the entire iPad range into the spotlight.

The official line from Apple’s Bob Borchers yesterday trying hard to explain the release was;

Apple Pencil has revolutionised note-taking, sketching, and illustrating, unleashing endless possibilities for productivity and creativity. Combined with the versatility of iPad, the new Apple Pencil unlocks another great option to experience the magic of digital handwriting, annotation, marking up documents, and more.

PR to talk aside, to my mind, the biggest problem with the iPad range seems to be lower down the food chain with the less expensive iPads which stems from the notion that Tim Cook is keen to enforce keeping older products around for longer – and the logic behind that decision…to try to cover every price point.

When Steve Jobs returned to the company one of his first decisions was to slim down the range of all Apple products. Nice & simple was his mantra. But the operations-based Cook has decided to take the opposite route and given the success he has made the company, who am I to point the fingers of blame at him?

In Cook’s mind the longer you can leave a product on the shelf the more money you’ll re-coup from the initial R&D. As the device ages you can reduce the cost and therefore attract customers that may not have been able to afford an iPad when it was costing more – a clever move!

And so it goes on

I’ve mentioned how confusing the iPad lineup is – the Apple Pencil range is not far behind!

The Apple Pencil 1st generation is still on sale for $99, there is a USB-C pencil on sale for $79 and at the top of the pile is the Apple Pencil 2nd generation which is yours for $129.

How can we be in a position where we have three pencils on sale – it’s madness and must be making Jobs squirm in his grave. Perversely though, because of the extended iPad range keeping the original Pencil on sale does make sense. The 9th generation iPad only has Lightning so can only use the 1st generation Pencil.

Geez – I hope you’re keeping up…

Back to the iPad…

And this neatly brings me back around to the iPad range. Despite the newer 10th gen being a better iPad in every way it costs £130 more. Apple knows from history that to discontinue what is still a very decent device would be madness. Many bulk corporate and education sales would be lost – remember this what I told you about Apple eeking every single dollar out of a device before retiring it.

On the downside it makes the range look bloated and messy – but that is just superficial vanity. Cook’s direction clearly makes money which is what Apple does best.

This thinking permeates through to the Mac lineup too.

For whatever reason some people will only ever buy a MacBook Pro – maybe it suits their mindset to think of themselves as a ‘pro’. So Apple cleverly leaves the ageing 13-inch MacBook Pro on the shelves as an entry Pro machine – that model only costs £1349 compared to the cheapest 14-inch M2 Pro MacBook Pro which costs £800 more at £2149. So you can become a Pro owner at a bargain price.

It’s the equivalent of putting bums on seats.

With the buffer of knowing they are covering all the price options, Apple are then free, in their odd logic, to continue adding new devices at the top end which is what causes the squeeze I mentioned at the bottom end

There is no getting away from the fact that the Apple Pencil released yesterday is the result of the total mess that the iPad currently finds itself in. The lines are so blurred.

If you were trying to advise a friend who asked what the difference between iPad, iPad Air and iPad Pro is – would you know where to start? They all seem to be vying after the same customer – more or less.

The future

The rumours of any more events this year seem to be thin on the ground.

Where once we had hoped that we may get an M3 iMac this year that now seems ever so unlikely. With yesterday’s announcement, it seems even more remote of a chance that we’ll get any iPads until next year save an updated version of the cellular 10th-generation iPad with eSIM in China later this month.

I’d love to leave you on a high and say that next year will give us a clean new sweep and that the iPad range will be clutter-free and easy to understand.

I wouldn’t hold your breath though – as I started by saying…with iPads confusion seems set to reign.

Maybe that’s why I don’t own one…

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